Stratus computer unit spins out from Ascend

Communications and networking equipment vendor Ascend Communications yesterday announced the sale of its Stratus Enterprise Computer Division to a global investment group called Investcorp.

Ascend bought high-end computer manufacturer Stratus Computer in August for $US822 million and had said it would divest itself of Stratus' non-telecommunications-oriented divisions, which includes the Enterprise Computer Division.

The new Stratus will be an independent company headed by Steve Kiely, who previously headed the division under Ascend. Stratus will be 70-per cent owned by Investcorp, with the remainder owned by Stratus management and employees, according to Kiely.

The purchase price was not disclosed, but Kiely said it was in between $US100 million and $US150 million.

Stratus will continue to focus on making fault-tolerant computing platforms for enterprise markets, including financial services and Internet banking, Kiely said. In addition, Ascend and Stratus will engage in two-way technology sharing, with Ascend focusing on Unix operating systems and Stratus concentrating on its VOS and Microsoft Corp.'s Windows NT operating systems, he said.

Stratus has no immediate plans to make acquisitions of its own, and Kiely would not say whether any particular products or market segments might be of interest to the company in the future. However, he did note that Stratus' relationship with Investcorp. gives Stratus access to the capital needed to make acquisitions, should the company decide to go that route.

Kiely also declined to comment on reports that Ascend and networking and telecommunications giant Lucent Technologies are nearing a merger worth $US16 billion.

"I have nothing to say about it. I am not an insider at Ascend," Kiely said.

Ascend officials also declined to comment.

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